I have been sleeping terribly the last few weeks.
I’ve been on a pretty consistent run of 5AM-10AM nights. These tend to alternate between heavy work nights, and “I’ve been spending so much time doing heavy work nights and days, I just want to stay up and watch a movie and not think about anything” nights. This is bad, for a number of reasons, but mostly because it’s self perpetuating. I spend the first half of the day exhausted, and my brain wakes up in the evening, and then I want to do all the things my brain needs to be awake for.
Like watching THE CROWN, THE IMAGINEERING STORY, and more recently, episodes of DEFUNCTLAND on YouTube.
There are a bunch of reasons my sleep schedule has slipped in this direction. My travel week from the 18th-23rd did a lot to scramble my systems, and push me into a West Coast sleep pattern… But the bigger issue is schedule crunch. Which, I should be much much better at predicting than I ever have been, and suspect I ever will be.
There’s usually a crunch when you’re transitioning between projects. This is very true in comic book writing, and I suspect it’s true in all manner of other jobs. But in case it isn’t, allow me to explain. Let’s say you’re usually capable of writing four books a month, and you have a side project on top of that you work on in the gaps between those four books.
So let’s say at the start of 2019, Q4, your work slate looks like this. Hypothetically, of course.
Slot One: Justice League (Biweekly book, but it’s a cowriting gig, so it’s one slot)
Slot Two: Justice League Dark
Slot Three: Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen
Slot Four: Something is Killing the Children
Slow Burn Side Project: PROJECT WINGBOY
And you are trying to transition, so that by the start of 2020, Q1, your work slate will look like this.
Slot One: Batman (Biweekly Solo Book)
Slot Two: Batman
Slot Three: PROJECT OSWALD
Slot Four: Something is Killing the Children
Slow Burn Side Project: PROJECT WINGBOY
What inevitably happens, is your schedule car-crashes, and you spend a couple months working on both slates simultaneously. Wrapping up projects (which takes a lot of time and emotional energy to do well), and developing projects (which has a whole extra level of story approvals, on top of the time and emotional energy it takes to do it well).
And then when you throw a couple of one-shots and unexpected shorts into the mix?
It gets a little overwhelming. You end up with some long nights working, and other long nights where you’ve gotten done what you need to do, but you still need time to turn off your brain and unwind a little. Watch some theme park documentaries, or star-studded docudramas. Just to experience some active, deliberate decompression, because you know you’ll be on call the second you wake up the next morning.
Nothing will ever beat the schedule crunch of wrapping up Batman & Robin Eternal and Constantine: The Hellblazer while gearing up on Detective Comics, Backstagers, and Year Three of The Woods. Nothing else even comes close.
That’s the benefit of having had two long form weekly projects in my recent past. It is virtually impossible to bury me in more work than I have successfully dug myself out of before.
I am invincible, immortal, and beautiful.
I am also over the worst of it. I know pretty much exactly what I need to write between now and January 1st. Two projects from that first slate have already been completed, and the little side shorts and one-shots have been taken care of. Now it’s just making up for being a little behind on the 2020 slate, so I can enter the year on top of everything.
The coolest thing about being in this weird crunch zone is you get to see a lot of beautiful art fill your inbox every single day. I just spent some time looking over some pages from PROJECT WINGBOY and they look so absolutely gorgeous, I almost forgot that I have to knock out a big stack of pages for it by the end of December.
I am going to try and go to bed at a human hour tonight. We’ll see if I succeed or not.
KEEPING UP WITH THE DISCOURSE
Twitter feels extra broken, lately. Maybe it’s just me.
There’s this memetic decay that feels like it’s happening faster than ever. An idea is posted. A takedown of the idea is posted. A takedown of the takedown of the idea is posted. A parody of the takedown of the takedown is posted. And so on. What used to take weeks or a months feels like it happens in an hour. The internet descends, ravenous on any morsel of viable, pliable information thrown its way, dismantles the information into parts, every component part is then dismantled and analyzed from every possible vantage point, and ultimately it is discarded.
It’s like a very quick demonstration that any words can mean anything to anyone. In time you can almost do the work yourself. You see a tweet, and your mind goes rapidfire through what all the different takes on that tweet are going to be, and then if one of them strikes you as honest or funny enough, you post it. You become part of the thing, a part of the process. Part of something that feels living and breathing, and we get a little charge out of it. a little thrill.
If you view twitter like an organism, it’s like we’re a host of digestive enzymes breaking down the food for consumption and sustainance. We live in the stomach of the organism. Each of us memetically primed to serve a purpose dictated to us by algorithms that we can’t comprehend working on us, every single day.
I would love to see a visualization of this. I bet it would be terrifying.
Twitter gets scarier when you have more followers, because you start seeing how many people respond to the same thing in the same exact way, often phrased with the same words. It makes it all a bit more obvious that we’re weird meat computers, not advanced enough to actually process how the machines we built are rewiring our brains.
We are become pod people, programmed to digest and break down information, to sustain the life of a memetic organism that we’re all going to have to rise up and murder someday.
All this said, I am a huge proponent of Baby Yoda.
This is the last section from my big, crazy Batman pitch document that I can post without spoiling parts of the story I’m about to tell… This is the last bit of the set-dressing… Maybe next week I’ll pass along an excerpt from my prologue to the 86 script! Or maybe I can convince DC PR to load me up with some sweet sweet art assets.
Batman has had one hell of a year. The Batman Who Laughs destroyed the Wayne Enterprises building. Bane managed to take control of Arkham, Wayne Manor, and The Batcave. Every core system of technology that Batman uses day-to-day has been compromised and needs to be reimagined from the ground up.
The brain behind this rebuild is Lucius Fox.
Lucius is the CEO of Wayne Enterprises, and is a technical engineering marvel. For the last few years, Lucius has been pushed to focus on improving and maintaining Batman’s existing systems, but after City of Bane, he was given the go-ahead to pull out all of his most experimental technology concepts and bring them all to life. He enjoys building non-lethal weapons technology for Batman, and has grown to appreciate Bruce’s flair for the dramatic. He’s been dreaming up new Batwings and Batmobiles for months.
Lucius operates out of the new Wayne Enterprises campus on the former Tricorner Yards (old city docks). This new center of the Wayne Enterprises global empire has more built-in R&D space than any previous iteration. Unbeknownst to the thousands who work on the campus every day, there is a giant R&D lab and automated factory hidden beneath the public building. Lucius can design new technology from his office computer, and the automated machines start building it, so he can test it. There is also an industrial furnace he uses to dispose of impractical Batmobiles and Gadgets.
Lucius has also started to operate as Batman’s operations person, filling the role that was one served by Alfred. This has put considerable stress on the old man, who is not used to operating on three hours sleep a night. But he believes in the mission of Batman, and the new city that’s growing beneath their feet. His son, Luke Fox, is worried about his dad’s new night job, and the ways in which it’s keeping him from his family and affecting his health. He knows what working close to Batman can do to a person, and he sees the death of Alfred as a clear warning of what might be in store for his father. Luke wants him to retire, but Lucius will only consider it if his son takes on his mantle. There needs to be a Batman and Batman needs help.
The first arc of the 2020 Batman Run will introduce brand new versions of key Batman Gadgets/Vehicles, with one highlighted in every issue
The paragraph that follows this got into the specific vehicles I’m going to use, and I’m not giving that away for free!
We are quickly approaching the one month countdown to Batman #86. This may be another reason I haven’t been sleeping as much as I should. I very very much want you all to like it, and I’m probably going to be locking down the letters for that first issue sometime in the next few weeks, which is terrifying for all sorts of reasons.
You’ll be seeing Batman #85 coda even sooner than that. Which is even scarier.
THIS WEEK IN STORES
I don’t have any books in stores this week! But thank you for all the kind words about INFINITE CRISIS and JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK. I am very proud of these books.
Big stuff is happening in JUSTICE LEAGUE as the Justice Doom War draws to a close. You should check out issue 37. It’s real purdy, and full of very very exciting cool superhero action, by Scott Snyder and Jorge Jimenez. When we first started pitching Justice League, this was exactly the battle we had in mind. It is a thrill to see it in print.
We have officially activated Christmas in our house. There are pictures! Behold!
We’re officially doing Christmas Cards, and I don’t think I have factored in how much time it’s going to take to just write out all those addresses. I also need to figure out how to get all the furniture and crap I got from Black Friday sales into my new office. And I need to do it before I drive out to Long Island this Thursday to plan very very secret awesome comic books for all of you.
I turn 32 years old in 13 days. Which is strange. That’s like a full on grown-up age.
Tomorrow I have to hit the ground running, so I’m going to push this live now.
Merry Thanksgiving, and a Happy New December to you.
James Tynion IV